Why West Brom boss Slaven Bilic has 'no doubt' Middlesbrough will improve this season
West Brom boss Slaven Bilic believes Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate and assistant Robbie Keane have what it takes to stem the tide on Teesside.
Boro dropped to 21st in the Championship following a 1-0 defeat to the Baggies in an evenly-contested match at the Riverside, courtesy of Hal Robson-Kanu’s 82nd-minute winner.
It was a much better performance from Woodgate’s side compared to their defeat at Birmingham last time out, yet the result leaves the Teessiders just one point above the relegation zone.
But Bilic, whose side remain top of the table, was complimentary about Boro after the match.
“We knew what kind of game to expect, it was the one that we didn’t want that much but we were ready for that,” said the Croatian.
“We knew they are a big club, massive club, good players, two legends on the bench in Robbie and Jonathan.”
“They have a good team, all they need is a couple of wins which is not easy to get but they are fighting hard. They are a good team and gave us a hard game, very hard.
“If they continue like this they will be out of trouble and I have no doubt they will do it.”
Bilic was happier with his side’s second-half performance after the Baggies boss tweaked his formation after the break.
Goalscorer Robson-Kanu and winger Kyle Edwards were introduced from the bench with just under half an hour to go and both made an impact.
"We didn't score from a couple of opportunities then they had a spell where they had corners, tackles, shots from outside the box," added Bilic.
"The crowd got very lively and it became a difficult game. That is what we didn't want.
"We were OK in the first half but I wasn't very happy. We made some changes in the second half.
“It wasn't easy to score because they were defending with numbers but if you have the players in and around the box, sooner or later you will get a good opportunity. That's exactly what happened.”